Derby County were beaten 2-0 by Newcastle United in the Championship on Saturday evening.

Derby County’s Johnny Russell in action with Newcastle United’s Jonjo Shelvey

Derby County succumbed to a 2-0 defeat with an abject performance against an organised and resolute Newcastle United. 

Yoann Gouffran gave the visitors the lead with a sublimely struck volley in the first half, before Marcus Olsson was unfortunate to put the ball into his own net under pressure from DeAndre Yedlin, after a Scott Carson deflection in injury time.

The win took Newcastle into the automatic promotion places ahead of Barnsley on goal difference. Derby have slipped even further down the table into 19th position with this loss – their third in their opening six matches. The club have had a fairly dreadful start to the season, considering they are were seen as promotion contenders before a ball was kicked.

There’s plenty that Derby manager Nigel Pearson and his team can learn from this game, but here are just five things for them to take from it:

Goals are still a problem

Derby County’s James Wilson in action with Newcastle United’s Jamaal Lascelles and Jack Colback

Derby have invested heavily in forwards in the last year bringing in Nick Blackman and Abdoul Camara last season, before signing Matej Vydra and James Wilson in the most recent window – but goals are still a problem. Left back Craig Forsyth has scored the only goal in the team’s first six Championship outings this season.

Vydra cut a frustrated figure throughout the game, suffering a severe lack of service, but did show flashes of promise. Wilson, however, was largely anonymous on his debut.

Ultimately Derby never really looked like scoring, with Craig Bryson probably coming closest with a drive from outside the area. 

Chris Martin isn’t there, so stop playing long balls forward

Derby County’s Matej Vydra and Newcastle United’s Chancel Mbemba in action

The service to Vydra was not only lacking, but also poorly delivered in that it was often through high, long balls forward. At 5ft 9, the Czech striker is never going to be favourite to win headers, but the Derby players wasted possession countless times trying to deliver him long ball plays.

Defensive errors are still costing Derby dear

Derby County’s Jason Shackell and Newcastle United’s Jack Colback in action

Derby fans are all too familiar with the feeling of drawing or losing games where they’ve had the lion’s share of possession and the opposition have had precious few scoring opportunities. Another reason for this against Newcastle was players switching off in defensive situations. 

This was Wilson’s first game and debuts are often difficult, but it was his failure to track Gouffran’s run that allowed the Frenchman to fire home a thunderous volley. He’ll have to do more – or stay upfield.

Even the final goal, which could be discounted as Derby were chasing the game, was poor defensively. Jonjo Shelvey had every intention of holding the ball up in the corner and running the clock down, but was easily able to put the ball into the box for a two-on-two situation – and he and Yedlin got their rewards for their audacity.

Light in midfield

Nottingham Forest Chris Cohen in action against Derby County’s Craig Bryson

The Derby midfield had plenty of the ball, particularly in the second half, but that was more due to Newcastle allowing the hosts to have possession and play in front of them, since Derby weren’t posing a great threat. 

Sloppy passing and almost zero chance creation was a problem in itself. A failure to string more than a few passes together and keep hold of the ball was also an issue.

What was more troubling, however, was that when Newcastle wanted the ball to occupy areas further up the field, they were winning the midfield battle with relative ease.

Will Hughes is undoubtedly a talented player on the ball, but not so much of a ball-winning midfielder or a tough tackler. Bryson, as combative as he is, remains a slightly built figure. Derby’s midfield looked at their most threatening when either Richard Keogh or Jason Shackell drove up the field with the ball and created space for their teammates.

Understandably, Pearson wants to include Hughes and Bryson together, as he should do. But the question remains, how will the central midfield battle be won against physically stronger teams ?

Pace the only positive

Derby County’s Ikechi Anya and Newcastle United’s Matt Ritchie in action

But there was one positive to take from Derby’s performance: pace.

The injection of pace and mobility from Ikechi Anya and Matej Vydra, along with the likes of Johnny Russell and Olsson made for a threatening proposition, albeit in patches.

Vydra looked to have opened the scoring early in the game when his attempt was ruled out for offside, and that came off a good move where he combined with Anya. Olsson and Anya in particular combined well in spells down the left, and there were signs that they could form a formidable partnership down the flank.

Thomas Ince’s brief cameo did little to relieve the pressure on him and the criticism he has received. Although Anya is certainly not as skilled as Ince, his effort and all round energy was clearly appreciated by the home fans who applauded him when he was substituted. 

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